Lyautey’s Fez

Leave a comment on today’s Mutterings, and you have a chance at winning a copy of the Garment of Shadows ARC.

In 1924, Morocco was a protectorate, under the administration of France to the south and Spain to the north.  The Spanish portion was, simply speaking, a disaster, with years of oppression that erupted into vicious open rebellion.  The French protectorate, on the other hand, was by and large a successful nurturing of a technologically backward country into the Twentieth century.

That result was due to one unlikely man.

(Sorry, I can’t seem to make it embed, but the YouTube of Lyautey and the Sultan of Morocco is here.)

Hubert Lyautey was a minor aristocrat who learned the task of colonial rule in Indochina and Algeria, and was appointed resident general of Morocco in 1912.  He plays a central role in Garment of Shadows, even more so than Edmund Allenby in O Jerusalem, and his home in the medina is the center of much of the story’s action.

Dar Mnehbi is a beautiful little palace surrounded by the tangled lanes of old Fez, used now for special events such as the city’s annual festival of sacred music.  I came across Dar Mnehbi the first day I spent in Fez, although I did not realize what I had seen for many months:

The library opened off the grand central courtyard of the main dar, where an ornate expanse of tile echoed with the music of falling water and cushioned banquettes lay against the walls. The halka grid was directly overhead, indicating that this part of Dar Mnehbi was but a single storey high. I could see why it had been necessary to take over the adjoining dar—most of the doors opening onto this ornate courtyard stood open, revealing a series of formal salons. It took Youssef some time to lead me to the correct doorway, my steps being slowed by my attempts to take it all in. I goggled, frankly, at the intricate texture of the zellij tiles and carved plaster, zellij and water, zellij and painted wood, zellij and coloured glass. It was a space both intimate and intimidating: lavish to the point of majestic, yet clearly designed as a place to welcome guests.

The patient servant, having stopped me first from walking into the fountain and then from tumbling over a charcoal brazier, finally led me to one of the intricately painted doors off to one side.

To read more from Garment of Shadows, go here.

To order a copy—hardback, audio, e-book, or signed—go here.


  1. Clair Lamb on July 15, 2012 at 6:37 am

    Fascinating! I grew up on and around Navy bases, where streets and buildings were sometimes named for Port Lyautey, the site of an important battle and ingenious Naval operation during the Second World War. It never occurred to me to wonder whom Port Lyautey itself had been named after.

  2. Mary on July 15, 2012 at 6:46 am

    It is exquisite!

  3. Tiffany on July 15, 2012 at 6:53 am

    wow, it looks gorgeous! Can’t wait to see how it figures into GoS!

  4. Robbin Stull on July 15, 2012 at 6:56 am

    Oh the dangers of so much to see and take in that the feet can’t manage!

  5. Kim Horner on July 15, 2012 at 7:04 am

    Zellij, zellij everywhere . . . may land you IN the drink.

  6. Allison T on July 15, 2012 at 7:04 am

    I love these posts you have been doing about Morocco 🙂 They remind me in many ways of the Khan al-Khalili section of Cairo (not the touristy section, but the Egyptian market area), and also Qahara al-Qadeema (Coptic Cairo) from when I was studying there in the summer of 2006. I was surprised a few months ago while wandering through my facebook friends list to find a relatively high percentage of people from my high school class (in Colorado) who have, in their travels, been to Morocco. Cannot wait to read Garment of Shadows 🙂

  7. Kitty Macey on July 15, 2012 at 7:11 am

    the photos remind me of my visit to Turkey and the smaller cities. The bazaars and the shops of Koyna were very similar to these roof tops, houses and homes. thanks!

  8. Katy Holder on July 15, 2012 at 7:23 am

    Thanks for the background information, it adds an extra dimension while reading (and I can’t wait to read Garment of Shadows).

  9. Julia Ackermann on July 15, 2012 at 7:38 am

    Thanks for the background information. It reminds me of my stays in Marrakech.
    One morning I woke up in my Riad and had a break taking view to the still snow covered Atlas Mountains.
    Can’t wait so read the book.

  10. Johnnie Boughner on July 15, 2012 at 7:59 am

    Yay! The box is back 🙂 Very much looking forward to reading “Garment of Shadows” and so enjoying the pictures and notes on Fez.

  11. Katie O on July 15, 2012 at 8:02 am

    Ah these teasers are killing me! Can’t wait!

  12. Kerry on July 15, 2012 at 8:05 am

    Just – wow. I think I would have tripped over the tiles themselves, never mind falling into the fountain. *goggle*

  13. Ipstenu (Mika Epstein) on July 15, 2012 at 8:08 am

    Now I just want a job where I can travel all around like Russell and Holmes… Or Laurie.

  14. Mandolin on July 15, 2012 at 8:18 am

    I always have to look up more information whenever I’m reading any of your books – thanks for providing it ahead of time for this book! I’m enjoying all of this background information.

  15. Laurie M. on July 15, 2012 at 8:23 am

    I am so enjoying these snippets! Usually I jot down notes while reading so I can look up locations, history, etc. for that deeper involvement in the story. Thanks so much for offering us a peek!

  16. Elizabeth on July 15, 2012 at 8:29 am

    That room is absolutely gorgeous! Russell gets to have all the fun! 🙂

  17. tmgray on July 15, 2012 at 8:36 am

    While I love entering for the book, I think I’d come here each day anyway just to see the photos and learn just a bit more about Fez!

  18. Susan Gainen on July 15, 2012 at 8:41 am

    One of the great gifts of the original blue-backed 220-page Nancy Drew mysteries was that each book taught its readers about something. Where else would I have learned about autographed quilts?

    Thank you for taking your readers along on Mary’s brisk and informative travels.

  19. peggy ann on July 15, 2012 at 8:43 am

    I would love to see this building. The video is a fascinating glimpse into history. I wish I understood french better to gain even more from it.

  20. MaryjoO on July 15, 2012 at 8:49 am

    travel, history, architecture … Holmes …. can’t wait!

  21. Judy Westmoreland on July 15, 2012 at 8:52 am

    The palace is just gorgeous. I love the shape of the doors. Saw the U Tube video of Hubert Lyautey.
    A man destined for this time in history.

  22. Alissa Nolan on July 15, 2012 at 9:01 am

    Thank you for sharing these snapshots of Fez. It is wonderful to get to know this part of the world a little better, especially before Garment of Shadows comes out.

  23. La Donna on July 15, 2012 at 9:13 am

    Maybe you should issue an illustrated, coffee table version of Garment of Shadows … perhaps in time for Christmas ….

  24. Kerri on July 15, 2012 at 9:34 am

    The Russell and Holmes books are a joy to read, but I have particularly enjoyed O Jerusalem and The Game. Not only have I grown up with Kipling’s books and poetry (my new puppy is named for KIm — all my dogs have had names from Kipling), but in these two books I travelled with Russell to places where my father lived and fought during WWII, a time I could not share with him. He later returned to Jerusalem and Palestine in the fifties and sixties with the UNEF. The books were a link to him, as well as downright enjoyable reading.
    As I read The Closed Room, the story unfolds on streets and hills of a city I love dearly and know so well – another double pleasure; now I look forward to Garment of Shadows with great anticipation because once again Russell will be unravelling a mystery in a place where once my father walked and searched.

    That teaser paragraph is brilliant – who among us cannot relate? The sheer beauty of a new place captivating one until one forgets the strange surroundings, walking into furniture or off the trail?

    This book cannot hit the shelves soon enough — and already I am anxious for the one that will follow

  25. Marie K on July 15, 2012 at 9:44 am

    I’m speechless at the sight of those beautiful tiles…

  26. Merrily Taylor on July 15, 2012 at 9:45 am

    What a beautiful house! I love seeing the places that feature in your books – and usually end up wanting to see the places for myself.

  27. Amanda B on July 15, 2012 at 9:47 am

    This sounds fascinating! I’m so excited to read the book!

  28. Annie S on July 15, 2012 at 10:21 am

    My dad, who travels the world for his work with NGOs, has Morocco as his current favorite place to be. I am looking forward to traveling there with Russell until such time as I can travel there in person!

  29. Elise on July 15, 2012 at 10:35 am

    So cool! Can’t wait to read!

  30. Katie on July 15, 2012 at 10:51 am

    I really enjoyed Allenby in O Jerusalem and I cannot wait to meet his counterpart in Morocco! It is fascinating how somewhat overlooked people can change the outcome of a country’s future.

  31. Jeffrey Bates on July 15, 2012 at 11:20 am

    I would dearly love an ARC copy.

  32. Sandy K on July 15, 2012 at 11:27 am

    So much beautiful architecture in that part of the world. All that spaciousness in the grander buildings seems to counteract the heat.

  33. Tom Varela on July 15, 2012 at 11:31 am

    Thank you!

  34. Laura Lee on July 15, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    Thank you! The background information is so interesting and the photos are lovely. It makes my anticipation even keener!

  35. Libby Dodd on July 15, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    Thank you for transporting me to another place and time. You are a genius at it.

  36. Meagan on July 15, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    Whoa…I would have loved to live in a house like that! I’m speechless…

  37. Shirley Bomgaars on July 15, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    I’m so looking forward to reading this book! I’d love to win an ARC, but – not to worry – already have plans in place to purchase at least one copy. Maybe a second copy for my daughter for her birthday in September – we’re both huge fans!

  38. Darryl DeLoach on July 15, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    I can’t wait for this to come out!!!!!! I waited and read Pirate King super late so I wouldn’t have to wait too long in between books, but I still finished it too quick! I couldn’t help it! But these snippets are perfect to tie me over until it comes out!

  39. Katy Accetta on July 15, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    I absolutely loved the historic interactions in O Jerusalem. If Garment of Shadows has any of the same elements….. man I am so excited for this book!!!!!! Absolutely can not wait! 😀

  40. Sarah B. on July 15, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    I have loved this series since I picked up The Moor, not knowing it was part of a series. I was instantly hooked and have bought ever book as soon as is comes out ever since. I have loved each new story and the depth of the relationship that is constantly growing between Holmes and Russell. These books have brought me such joy and I can’t wait to read what you have for us next!

  41. Seth Huckstead on July 15, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    Can’t wait for this book to come out.

  42. Elizabeth Copley on July 15, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    These are places in the world I would love to see. I can at least enjoy them through Russell.

  43. Tarah Walsh on July 15, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    Very interesting! I’ve always wanted to visit Morocco…looking forward to visiting it through Russell’s eyes!

  44. Kelley on July 15, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    Wow! More amazing tile work-it’s so gorgeous!

  45. Chloe Brogan on July 15, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    I’m really enjoying learning more about Morocco, a place I’ve never known much about before. Those pictures are gorgeous.

  46. Ann Boyd on July 15, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    Lovely! Can’t wait to read more.

  47. Erica Ruth on July 15, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    Seeing this picture, I would have goggled at the interior also!

  48. Katherine on July 15, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    Is it september yet?

  49. Madonna Smith on July 15, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    I get to visit such fascinating places when I read the Russell-Holmes stories. Thanks to Laurie King I get to travel.

  50. Meredith Taylor on July 15, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    It is bit like the description of the palace rooms for the (creepy) Maharajah of The Game. It definitely makes you want to go there. (and avoid that guy)//Meredith

  51. Cole J. on July 16, 2012 at 2:49 am

    i am ready for another russell and holmes book! keep them coming!

  52. Carol m on July 16, 2012 at 5:11 am

    Everything is so beautiful! I’m really enjoying all the photos!

  53. Kitty Macey on July 16, 2012 at 5:14 am

    What ou can learn from a ovel. Although I visited Morocco, but only for a short while I never found as much history as Laurie does!

  54. Christina on July 16, 2012 at 5:31 am

    To echo what others have said – looks gorgeous!

  55. Cheryl on July 16, 2012 at 7:48 am

    Loving these beautifully illustrated history bites. Looking forward to each installment. Thank you.

  56. Profin on July 17, 2012 at 3:09 am

    Ah, when will R&H travel to Spain – Granada comes to my mind seeing the pictures

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